Cienfuegos is accused of conspiring to produce and distribute thousands of kilos of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States between December 2015 and February 2017, according to documents from federal prosecutors in New York.
The former defense minister is said to have “abused his position to help the H-2 cartel, an extremely violent drug trafficking organization in Mexico”, the document states.
“In exchange for bribes, Cienfuego’s H-2 allowed the cartel, which routinely commits violence, including torture and murder, to operate impunity in Mexico,” the indictment said.
US authorities will be sitting on evidence with, among other things, thousands of Blackberry messages between the now 72-year-old ex-defense minister and members of the cartel.
Arrested in LA
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard signs Twitter that he was told about the arrest of US Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau.
A spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration DEA confirms to Reuters that they were the ones who arrested Cienfuegos.
Cienfuegos was Mexico’s Secretary of Defense between 2012 and 2018 under President Enrique Peña Nieto. The 72-year-old, who is retired, was arrested at the airport in Los Angeles when he arrived with his family, according to AP.
AMLO: Mafia Government
Regardless of how the trial ends, it is estimated that the arrest is a hard blow for Mexico. The Armed Forces is considered to be among the public institutions in the country with the least distrust.
Under Cienfuego’s leadership, however, the defense was regularly accused of human rights violations, which was also the case before his leadership.
Current president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, also known as AMLO, says Mexico is now facing a unique situation – in a negative light. He takes a hard line against the administration of his predecessor.
“The arrest is a clear sign that Mexico was previously run by a drug government, and no doubt a mafia government,” AMLO said of former President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government.
In 2019, former Secretary of Defense Genaro Garcia Luna was arrested in Texas for accepting bribes from the well-known Sinaloa cartel that allowed drugs to be smuggled into the United States.